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Cool cinnamon wood

July 4, 2017

In hot Sri Lanka, air conditioners are serious energy guzzlers. One hotel chain there wants to make cooling carbon neutral by 2020 - using cinnamon.

Man sorting cinnamon wood, Sri Lanka
Image: DW/W. Gebhardt

Green technology for hotels in Sri Lanka

Project goal: Make all Jetwing hotels carbon-neutral by 2020
Project implementation: Air conditioning consumes more than half the energy used by the hotels. Conventional systems use harmful coolants and are powered by electricity. Now Jetwing is switching to climate-friendly absorption chillers, which cool using steam. To generate the steam, the hotels will burn wood waste from the cinnamon industry. As a result, only as much CO2 is released as was initially absorbed when the cinnamon wood was grown.
Project size: With 30 hotels, Jetwing is one of the largest hotel chains in Sri Lanka. Burning biomass will save 2,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.
Project partners: International Climate Initiative (IKI); Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Ministry for the Environment (BMU); Nature Conservation; German Ministry for the Environment as part of the Green Cooling Initiative.

Tourism in Sri Lanka is booming. In 2013, more than 1.3 million visitors came to the island - this number is expected to triple by 2020. But many hotels use outdated cooling systems that guzzle electricity and use coolants that are very powerful greenhouse gases. The hotel chain Jetwing, one of the largest in Sri Lanka, is now modernizing its system, and plans to be carbon-neutral by 2020.

The family-run company has already installed climate-friendly cooling systems in five of its hotels. These so-called absorption chillers convert heat into cold. To do that, they burn wood waste from the cinnamon industry. That makes sense since more than 80 percent of cinnamon worldwide is produced on the island. Jetwing buys the wood waste, the cinnamon trees are reforested - it's a climate-neutral cycle. But the green project is already facing its first limitation, as readily available cinnamon wood is becoming scarce.

A film by Wolf Gebhardt